My ceiling fan has a red wire in the ceiling box and switch. How should I wire it?
The quick answer is that the red wire typically powers the ceiling fan light or light kit. And the ceiling fan light is powered by the blue wire.
Therefore, while there are a couple different wiring options, the red wire should connect to the blue fan wire in most scenarios.
This is often referred to as red black white wire ceiling fan wiring. The term black and red wire ceiling fan is also used to describe the wiring.
Wiring diagrams for common options are given below to make red wire ceiling fan wiring as easy as possible.
What else is here?
*Red wire ceiling fan with remote wiring is also covered.
*This page also covers the situation in which the fan itself uses a red wire. While most ceiling fans are 4 wire ceiling fans with a black (for power), white (the neutral), blue (lights) and green (or bare – for ground), a few fans do have a red wire in place of the blue wire.
Red Wire in the Ceiling Box and Switch Box
The red wire in the ceiling box and the switch box is the same wire. One end of it is found in each location.
The most common scenario for a red wire in the ceiling box and the switch box is red black white wire wiring, meaning that there is one wire of each color plus the bare ground wire.
The wire used in ceiling fans is most commonly 14/3 or 12/3.
The first number is the gauge of the wire. The second number is the number of insulated wires plus the bare ground wire. So, a 14/3 bundle, for example, has 4 wires. That takes a little getting used to.
Install Red Wire With Ceiling Fan
Here are step-by-step instructions for wiring a ceiling fan with the red black white wire ceiling fan wiring.
Two steps are assumed.
- First, about ½” to ¾” of the insulation is removed from the end of each wire both at the switch and at the ceiling fan box in the ceiling.
- Secondly, connections are made by twisting together the bare ends of wire, and the connections are secured with a wire nut.
And any time a wire is not connected, by design, “dead end” it by twisting a wire nut onto it.
Here are instructions for the three ways to wire a red black white wire ceiling fan.
1 & 2: The first two scenarios include On/Off switches for lights and fan.
3: The third scenario is for a fan On/Off switch and a dimmer for the lights.
In all scenarios, fan speeds are controlled by the pull chain.
Scenario 1: Separate Light and Fan Switches
This is the most common way to wire a ceiling fan with two switches.
Important – White is Hot: The white wire is going to be used for power in scenarios 1 and 2. So, the common practice is to wrap a piece of electrical wire around the insulation near both ends to remind you and to alert anyone else working on it that the white wire is “hot.”
At the Fan Switch
1. The white (taped) wire to the top terminal.
2. The black wire to the bottom terminal.
3. The bare wire to the ground screw.
At the Light Switch
1. The red wire to the top terminal.
2. Run a (black) jumper from the bottom terminal of the Fan Switch to the bottom terminal of the Light Switch.
2. Run a (bare) jumper from the ground screw on the Light Switch to the ground on the Fan Switch.
*A jumper is a small piece of wire with insulation removed at both ends. Color doesn’t technically matter, but it is best to choose a wire with insulation color matching the other wires serving the same purpose (hot, neutral, ground, etc.).
At the Ceiling Box
1. The black wire going to the switch to the black wire coming from the power supply.
*The picture should show a wire nut on the connection. It is not likely to be a continuous wire from the power supply through the ceiling box to the switch.
2. The blue (lights) wire to the red wire.
3. The black (fan motor) wire to the taped white wire.
4. The white wire to the white power supply wire (neutrals).
5. The green or bare (ground) fan wire to the power supply ground and the ground to the switches. Add a short ground wire to the connection, and attach the loose end to the ground screw in the ceiling box.
Scenario 2: Separate Light and Fan Switches (Alternate Wiring)
Some electricians prefer a different ceiling fan wiring for separate switches as shown in this diagram.
First, connect the taped white wire to jumpers from the top terminals of the Fan Switch and Light Switch, as shown.
Next, connect the bare ground wire to jumpers to the lower terminals on both switches.
At the Fan Switch
Connect the black wire (power to the fan motor) to the bottom terminal.
At the Light Switch
Connect the red wire (power to the light) to the bottom terminal.
At the Ceiling Box
1. The red wire to the blue wire for lights.
2. The black wire to the black wire for the fan.
3. The ground/bare wire to the green fan wire.
4. The taped wire to the black wire coming from the power supply (not to a fan wire).
Scenario 3: Wiring a Ceiling Fan Switch with a Light Dimmer (Rheostat)
A dimmer allows you to determine the brightness of the light for your specific purpose. Most people like bright light for reading or tasks and dimmer lighting for conversation or relaxing.
At the Fan Switch:
Connect the black (fan power) wire from the fan to the lower terminal.
At the Light Dimmer Switch:
1. Connect the top black wire on the switch to the black power supply wire. If there’s no wire on the dimmer switch, use a jumper.
2. Run a jumper from the black wire connection to the top terminal on the fan switch.
3. Connect the dimmer switch ground wire (shown with green insulation; it could be bare) to the ground from the power supply and the ground going to the fan.
4. Add a ground wire jumper to the ground wires connection, and run it to the ground on the fan switch. All 4 ground wires are bundled together – you might need a larger wire nut!
5. Connect the white neutral wire from the power supply to the white wire to the fan.
At the Ceiling Box:
1. Black wires.
2. White wires.
3. Red wire from the switch to the blue fan wire.
4. Bare ground wire from the switch to the fan’s green-insulated ground wire (it could be bare). Add a jumper to the ground wire connection, and connect it to the ground screw in the box.
Red Wire in Ceiling Fan
Some ceiling fans are manufactured with a red wire – typically in place of a blue wire. The red wire is used as a second “hot” wire along with the black wire.
*In these wiring scenarios, the red wire in the ceiling fan usually controls the lights.
4 Wires – Red black white wire ceiling fan with a ground wire: This is standard wiring in which the lights and fan can have separate switches.
3 wires – Black and red wire ceiling fan with a ground wire: In this case, the red wire is used for both the fan and lights. The switch turns on both, and then the fan is controlled with the pull chain.
How Do I Deal With the Red Wire When Installing a Remote to a Ceiling Fan?
*If your fan and/or remote receiver module have a wiring diagram, it should take precedence over any other instructions.
There are two common scenarios. In either one, you will need to wire the receiver for the remote.
Two Switches – Some installations have both switches and a remote, and the fan can be controlled in multiple ways.
Black and red are “hot.”
1. Connect the white fan wire to the white power supply wire and the white wire on the input side of the remote’s receiver module.
2. Do the same with the black fan, ceiling (power supply) and remote module input side.
3. Connect the black output wire on the module to the black fan wire.
4. Connect the blue output wire on the receiver module to the blue fan wire.
5. Use wire nuts to cap the white and black remote receiver module output wires.
6. Now, here’s where the red wire comes in. Connect the blue input wire on the module to the red wire from the power supply.
This red wire ceiling fan with remote wiring allows you to use the remote or the fan switches to control the fan.
Tip: To use the remote, the fan switches have to be in the On position so that the lights and fan are energized.
If you simply want to use the remote to control both the light and fan, here’s the instructions.
1. Wire the remote receiver module as outlined above – Steps 1 to 5. Skip Step 6.
2. Put a wire nut on the red wire – It is a “hot” wire from the power supply, but it is not needed when the remote’s module is already powered by the black power supply wire.
Still Have an Isuue?
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